History of Castor Oil
We all know about castor oil but how many of us really know the history of castor oil. Castor oil also known as the wonder oil is one of the most ancient oils famous for its powerful therapeutic, cosmetic and medicinal properties. The history of castor oil goes back around to the 4000BC where ancient Egyptians used castor oil for their lamps.
In earlier centuries because of its effectiveness the castor plant was also called “Palma Christe” which translates into “Hand of Christ” because it is said that the shapes of the leaves resemble the Hand of Christ.
Castor oil, although native to the Ethiopian regions of East Africa and India, the castor plant known as the “Ricinus Communis” is now widely grown in tropical and warm temperate regions throughout the world. The name “Ricinus” is a Latin word for insect which stems from the form and markings of the seed.
Now, I’m sure we are familiar with the name castor oil, but it also has many other names such as: “Oil nut”, “African Coffee Bean”, “Arandi”, “Bi Ma Zi”, “Castor Bean Plant”, “Erand”,“Mexico seed/weed”, “Mole bean”, “Oil plant”, “Wonder Tree” , “Gandharva Hasta”, “Bofareira”, “Tangantangan Oil Plant”, “Kharwa”,“Ma Hong Liang”, “Minyak Jarak”, “Aceite de Ricino”/ “Aceite de Castor” and “Kastorka”
Jamaica, China, Africa, Greece, Rome and America have now adopted this oil for its cosmetic properties and it’s now widely used in cosmetic product which takes a natural approach to skin and hair care. In addition, it has various medicinal properties.
The castor plant made its way to Jamaica and the neighboring Caribbean countries via the slave trade, and when the cultivation in Europe in the eighteen (18th) century practically ceased, the small supplies required for European medicine were obtained from Jamaica. The name castor was originally applied about this period to the plant in Jamaica, where it had been originally called “Agnus Castus” giving rise to the production of Jamaican Black Castor Oil.
Castor Oil is a plant derived oil obtained from the castor seeds. It is a mixture of triglycerides composed of several different fatty acids. Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fats exist in food as well as in the body and is essential for energy in humans, while fatty acids are the building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in the food we eat.
Castor Oil is composed primarily of three fatty acids, Ricinoleic acid, Linoleic acid and Oleic acid. The most abundant of the three is Ricinoleic acid and this makes up approximately 90% of the fatty acid content of castor oil.
Ricinoleic Acid is an omega-9 fatty acid and is known for its strong pain relieving, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also inhibits the growth of many bacteria, viruses, molds and yeasts.
Oleic acid and Linoleic acid are present in smaller portions. Oleic acid is commonly used in moisturizers for softening the skin while linoleic acid is used on the skin for retaining moisture. Other substances present in castor oil include carbohydrates, Omega-6 fatty acids, enzymes, mineral salts, vitamin E and water.
Processing of Castor Oil
So let’s say you’ve just heard about castor oil and you decide you will finally get that long deserved hair treatment. You start searching online for castor oil for hair treatment, but you see two different looking castor oils, one transparent to slightly yellow and the other a dark brown, how would you know which one to choose right off the bat?
This difference in coloration is as a result of the different processing of castor oil.
Jamaican Black Castor Oil
A variety of castor oil, commonly called Jamaican Black Castor Oil, uses a different extraction method. Instead of boiling, the seeds are first roasted and then passed through a grinder. This pulp is then boiled to extract the oil. This technique results in oil that is dark brown in color, a result of the roasting in the initial stage of production.
Last December when I started the research for this blog, I asked my grandmother how Jamaican Black Castor Oil is made and she told me a method that was somewhat similar but different none-the-less than the process explained above.
In my research to verify her method, I found that the traditional Jamaican method of extracting the oil involves roasting the beans then mashing them in a mortar. Water is then added to the “mashed “beans, before being slow boiled on a wood fire. The finished result is pure, unadulterated, thick, pungent, dark brown oil, hence the term “Jamaican black castor oil”.
Cold- Pressed Castor Oil
Natural castor oil is extracted from the seed using the cold-pressing technique. The outer layer of ripe castor seeds called the hull is first removed. This layer is what contains ricin, a toxic substance that can cause serious health complications in humans. It’s important to note that Ricin is not found in the extracted oil, so there’s no need to worry.
The hull-less seeds are subsequently cooked in order to prepare them for the extraction process. Cooking makes the seeds more flexible and thus easier for the oil content to be pressed out. The cooked seeds are later dried and then run through a cold press machine which applies high pressure to extract the maximum quantity of oil possible. The oil is then filtered to remove impurities. This procedure results in oil that is slightly yellow in appearance.
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Stimulates hair growth and helps repair dry damaged hair and breakages
Cleanse scalp of parasites and toxins that damages hair and slows growth
Protects hair with a protective coat that seals in moisture
Excellent for hot oil treatments
SKIN CARE BENEFITS – Castor Oil has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s high in Vitamin E, which is highly regarded for its beautifying effects. From postponing wrinkles and fine lines, to mole removal, castor oil produces deeply nourishing and moisturizing results you’ll fall in love with.
Skin Beautifier: Use castor oil to deeply clean pores and minimize appearance of blackheads, scars, age spots, reduce dark under eye circles. Castor oil is rich in Ricinoleic Acid that fights acne-causing bacteria.
Anti-Aging Elixir: Castor oil penetrates deeply to soften and hydrate tired, dull skin. Helps reduce appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while promoting an overall more youthful look.
HAIR CARE BENEFITS – From the hair on your scalp to your eyebrows and eyelashes, castor oil provides astonishing benefits for your hair. Castor oil can be used for many hair treatments including: Promotion of Hair growth, prevention of hair loss and breakage, as a moisturizer to repair split ends and restore luster to dry dull hair, deep treatment to repair receding hairline, conditioner for scalp to improve circulation, treatment of dandruff & dry scalp, hair softening, restoration of healthy hair naturally, and thickening of hair. Revitalizing hair – Apply to dry, frizzy hair to deeply moisturize, prevent unsightly split ends, and even promote healthy hair growth.
Suggested Hair Treatment Methods: Hot Oil Therapy and Hair Masks with other essential oils.
For hot oil therapy, add Castor Oil, cover hair with plastic cap and apply heat for 30-45 minutes.
Castor Oil is suitable for men, women and also children as product is 100% organic
NAIL CARE BENEFITS– Castor oil provide nutrients that are also excellent from treating the fingernails, cracked or brittle nails, and nail strengthening.
POWERFUL NUTRIENTS – The Ricinoleic Acid, Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, and other highly beneficial fatty acids found in castor oil provides your skin, hair and nails with immense benefits. Uses also range from aiding with oral care, proper lactation, and birth control.